Karpin’s Korner: McCann Can, DJ Spinnin’ Yanks’ Wheel of Fortune?


Before today, I was already impressed with the signing of James McCann.

Following the 2018 season, the Mets were in the market for a catcher. From my “Karpin’s Korner” column of 11/2/2018, I wrote the following:

“Some names out there for potential trades include Tigers’ catcher James McCann who is coming off a down season. Detroit has a 23 year old catching prospect in Jake Rogers who may be ready to break through so the Mets and Tigers could make for a match. McCann is a better defender than what his defensive metrics show and has one of the best arms in the sport, throwing out 36% of potential base stealers last season. From 2015-2017, his offensive numbers were on the rise but McCann fell of a bit last year. He’s only 28 years old and may be worth the interest.” (Note: At that time, McCann was still the property of the Tigers. McCann was released after the Mets signed Wilson Ramos)

Better late than never.

The Mets introduced their latest acquisition in 2020 style, on a Zoom call, and what struck me was his intellect and knowledge of the catching position, not to mention his desire to prove himself.

McCann admitted he was motivated when the Tigers did not tender him following the 2017 season. “It was tough, you never want to be told you’re not wanted here,” McCann said. “That’s what a non-tender is, for whatever reason, we’re not gonna re-up your contract but it was the best thing that could happen for my career.”

Team President Sandy Alderson appreciated the fact that McCann took steps to improve and make himself a better player. “My sense of James is that he took that as an experience and a starting point for turning his career around,” Alderson said. “What we have confidence in is James’ work ethic and not only his work ethic, but his self awareness.”

Of course, there are the cynics out there who felt the team and new owner Steve Cohen should’ve pursued the #1 catcher on the market, J.T. Realmuto, who is not Johnny Bench, mind you. In some fans’ minds, McCann will always be measured up against Realmuto but he’s not concerned about the outside noise. “I’ve always been comfortable with who I am. I knew things would work out the way they’re supposed to. It never really bothered me one way or the other,”McCann said.

Defensively, McCann matches up with any catcher in the sport. His leadership and strong skills with handling a pitching staff will serve the Mets very well and he’s considered a strong presence in the clubhouse. McCann cited game experience as the biggest factor in developing a pitcher/catcher relationship. “Finding out what happens when there’s runners on second and third and two outs in a one run ballgame. How does someone react to a certain situation, that comes from experience,” McCann said.

Offensively, McCann is no Mike Piazza but he does have some pop and has become a more intelligent hitter in recent years. “My approach, I became content taking a single the other way. Taking a line drive through the 3-4 hole and be content that a single or a hard hit single the other way is a good thing,” McCann said. “Over the course of 2019, those line drive singles turned into line drive doubles, which turned into home runs.”

Despite the portrayal of some to paint the signing as a disappointment because the Mets didn’t go after the “number one” guy, McCann will have a very positive effect and will bring out the best in a Mets’ pitching staff that still has a lot of potential.

The Mets are still going to need a back up catcher and a former Yankee may just fill the bill. Adding Austin Romine to back up McCann would give the Mets a very strong catching tandem.

Yankee fans are “up in arms” over the fact that D.J. LeMahieu has not been re-signed yet. As reported by NJ.com Yankee beat reporter Brendan Kuty, who cites a source with knowledge of the situation, the two sides are reportedly more than $25 million dollars apart. LeMahieu knows this is his chance to cash in on a big deal, so he’s trying to maximize it as best as possible.

One way or another, I can’t see this situation between the Yankees and LeMahieu dragging on much longer. LeMahieu was made a qualifying offer so if he signs elsewhere that would cost a draft pick, which may make a team think twice before trying to outbid the Yankees.

If LeMahieu is not retained, do the Yankees go out and sign a shortstop and move Gleyber Torres back to second base? GM Brian Cashman recently indicated Torres was not in top shape and that’s why he had some problems last season defensively. To me, it’s a matter of technique and concentration. Torres’ footwork on some plays was terrible and, at times, he appeared to be lackadaisical in approaching routine ground balls.

The Yankees have a number of other issues to attend to including starting pitching and left hand hitting. Gerrit Cole is a given and Jordan Montgomery’s stock rose in the post season. He’s also another year removed from Tommy John surgery. Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt are both talented young arms but the Yankees need some veterans to round out the rotation.

Round Trippers: Free agent reliever Ryne Stanek is drawing interest from a number of teams including the Yankees and Dodgers…..I can’t help feeling that Trevor Bauer ends up with the Angels…..Former two time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber will showcase his wares for a number of teams before the month is over. Reportedly, the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Cubs will be part of the audience…..Expect a decision on a “Universal DH” to be announced very soon. That may be the only rule change from 2020. I don’t think we’ll see 7-inning doubleheaders. As far as starting a man on second in extra innings, you may see a “tweak” of that rule. Something along the lines of having the rule invoked beginning with the 13th inning.

“Karpin’s Korner,” the internet radio show, will debut on 365Sportscast.com in January. I will be hosting the weekly show from 8-9 PM, eastern time beginning January 3rd, 2021. More details to come

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